What Happens When Your Work Is Acceptable But Your Hair Is Not?

hair at work

That question was posed this morning on a post written on the BBC UK. It was about a working girl who said that her London employer has literally banned her natural hair.

They are encouraging her to wear a weave even with great performance at work. Recently I did a post about going to an interview with what might be considered a less than conservative hair style.

From that post we can infer that making the compromise during the interview process isn’t such a bad thing, but what do you do when your employer just outlaws your hair forever?

Read this story according to the BBC:

Leila – not her real name – says her London employer has told her on a number of occasions not to turn up for work with her natural hair.

She says she has been encouraged to wear a weave to disguise her afro hair. It is not the first time that work dress codes have come under scrutiny.

Nicola Thorp from Hackney, east London described how she was sent home from work for refusing to wear high heel shoes..

But unlike Nicola whose petition calling for a change in dress code laws for women has reached 130,000, Leila says the pressure to conform to western ideals of beauty has become a struggle that she has learnt to accept.

“I am West African, and I work at a consultancy firm in London. I am always being made to feel that my natural hair gives the impression that I am unprofessional”, says Leila.

“A few years ago I had my hair styled in cornrows and I was asked quite blatantly by my boss how long it would be before my hair was back to ‘normal’.

“I was taken aback. I could not believe what I was hearing. “Although shocked, I did change my hairstyle – I did not want my hair to be the cause of problems for me at work.”

This makes me have second thoughts about compromising, that maybe it sends a message of conforming to a standard that does not accept what my hair naturally does. I should not be asked to wear a weave, bottom line, especially if I am not trying to make a political statement. Some of us just want to wear our own hair and come to work like regular folk!




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